A small white ball of fur caught my attention one frigid day. The small winter fox before me seemed to be scanning the horizon of his icy home. His habitat was stunningly beautiful and pristine, made stark white with ice and snow. Not many humans ever make their way up to this part of the world, and for good reason. The small white fox goes by multiple names including the “arctic fox”, “winter fox”, “snow fox” and “polar fox”. All of these names are derived from their icy habitats.
The winter fox is a well trained survivalist, one hardly bothered by the cold that was ripping through me. A well known characteristic of this fox is its dense heat trapping fur that it also uses for camouflage. This species is actually the only land mammal that is native to Iceland. I was photographing in The Svalbard Islands, a Norwegian archipelago. This icy clump of islands is wedged halfway between Norway and the North Pole in the Arctic Ocean. The area is characterised by a heavy Arctic climate, with alternating periods of darkness and light. Mother Nature does her best to remind travelers like myself how far up north we are. About 60% of Svalbard is covered with glaciers, mountains, and fjords. Not exactly the best habitat for me, but undoubtedly suitable for my small hardy photography subject.
The winter foxes came to the isolated North Atlantic island at the end of the last ice age, most probably by crossing the frozen sea. The compact carnivores are skilled hunters, preying on anything they can catch. Their prey includes lemmings, voles, other rodents, hares, birds, eggs, fish, and carrion. They are able to survive the harsh cold and food scarcity of their habitat by hoarding food or living off of fat reserves.
Photographing the Winter Fox
This winter fox, among many other white fox pictures, was clicked in Svalbard when I was least expecting to capture anything.
I was in the land where I could only see shades of whites and blues, in the icy world of glaciers and frozen tundra, in the land of the midnight sun in all its glory. In the blizzard-ridden sub-zero temperatures where powdered snow mercilessly swept the ground beneath. In the land where the arctic foxes scoped the frozen vastness, and where the majestic polar bear lumbered across miles of snow and also ice. I was back in Svalbard.
Swimming in self-doubt
The temperature was as cold as one could expect in the Arctic. Maybe even colder, if that was possible. I didn’t know one day from another. I was here to capture the polar bear but this trip had not been panning out the way I wanted it to. With plenty of winter fox, this time I didn’t want to end up only with fox photographs. Wildlife photography requires patience and also I felt I had not given myself enough time to capture what I wanted to. The control freak in me wanted to go back in time and pay more attention to the preproduction part of this trip. “If only I had given myself more time” is something I kept telling myself.
Something white and furry
It had been hours on this snowmobile as it rumbled past glaciers and snow-covered mountains and glaciers and snow-covered mountains and glaciers and snow-covered mountains, and then some more glaciers and snow-covered mountains. Distraught and also frankly a bit delusional, I tried to look for my own reflection in the frozen walls around me. Just as I would have in the glass facades of the buildings back home in New York. Somewhere in between the torpor and also the self-criticism, I spotted some movement in the far white distance. Oh no, not a white fox again! With plenty of pictures of winter fox from my last trip, I was looking to click the polar bear this time.
Though I was not keen, we stopped our snowmobile in its tracks to see what would happen. The white fox kept inching closer and closer to us. Within minutes, it was only a few feet away from us. He was close enough for me to see his furry round paws and also the mischief in his eyes. Before I knew it, he was posing for. It took me less than a minute to bring out my camera to click the fox images. The rumbling sound of the snowmobile was now replaced by the clicks of my shutter. Wildlife photographers sometimes wait for hours if not days, for moments like this. I got it in less than ten minutes of spotting this fox.
“I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet” ― Helen Keller
Back in NYC
When I got back to my studio in NYC, I did not even bother to go over the pictures of the fox. Dejected, I continued to complain because I didn’t get the polar bear. I was so disappointed that I decided to delete all the images. After forcing myself to give them at least one glance, I came across this winter fox. Reality struck. I had been so ungrateful and whiney about this entire situation. So what if I hadn’t got the polar bear. I had come back with this gem of an image. And now people could buy these photos online as a result.
Winter Fox Home Decor
View our Arctic Wolf Short Film
Read our Arctic Story Covered by Nikon
Facts about the Winter Fox
The winter fox has a rounded body with short legs and also small ears. These features help it adapt to living in extremely cold environments. To warm itself, the winter fox curls its bushy tail around its body. Its paws are covered with thick fur which makes moving across the snow and ice easier. The winter fox can survive on the temperature of minus 120 degrees Fahrenheit. It lives in the underground burrows of the Arctic that have up to a hundred entrances. These burrows are hundred of years very old and have been used by numerous generations of the white fox.
• 8” x 12” in
• 17.5” x 26.25” in
• 23.5” x 35.25” in
• 35.5” x 53.25” in
• 43.5” x 65.25” in
• Black Frame
• White Frame